By Mike London
OLIN ó A rerun of the “Darius Moose Show” aired on Friday, but there won’t be another episode until next November.
Carson sophomore Moose had 26 points and 15 rebounds to give his team a chance to win in Olin, but North Iredell made the plays at the end, held off the Cougars 55-51 and ended Carson’s season in a North Piedmont Conference tournament play-in game.
No. 7 seed North (8-15) earned the opportunity to play at No. 2 East Rowan on Tuesday in a quarterfinal.
No. 10 seed Carson (6-18) doubled its win total from its debut campaign and knocked off two top-tier teams in West Rowan and Lake Norman.
“The program took some baby-steps,” Carson coach Brian Perry said. “Even though we didn’t have as much success as we wanted to, we’re headed in the right direction.”
A knee injury that sidelined Brandon Ferguson was a factor in Carson’s demise, but Nick Houston, who got a lot of Ferguson’s minutes, helped out with two 3-pointers.
Tyrece Scott, who might be able to jump over a rainbow, led the winners with 21 points. Kyle Harvey had 14 points, and Lloyd Leach added 13 points and a stack of steals.
Carson shot 3-for-15 from the floor in the first quarter to fall behind 14-8. Then Harvey made five contested jump shots in the second quarter to push North Iredell’s lead to 34-23 at halftime.
“Oh, man, he was throwing them up one-handed and they were going in,” Carson senior point guard Justin Basinger said. “But we knew if we kept playing hard, they had to start missing some shots in the second half. Coach said at halftime it would come down to who wanted it more, and we did want it. We came out with heart in the second half.”
In the third quarter, Harvey cooled, Moose heated, and the Cougars charged. Josh Doby’s drive cut the Raiders’ lead to 41-37. Then Carson opened the fourth quarter with nine straight points ó all from Moose and Doby pounding the offensive glass. High tide for the Cougars was a 46-41 lead with six minutes left.
“Moose is a monster,” North Iredell coach Tony Davenport said. “It’s not a matter of if he’s going to go off, it’s when is he going to go off.”
North Iredell was reeling, but Scott and Leach steadied their teammates. North Iredell went back up by two, but a 3-pointer by Basinger with 3:02 left gave Carson a 51-50 lead.
Basinger’s steal gave Carson a chance to take control, but Leach’s steal and layup put North Iredell back on top 52-51. Then Scott blocked a shot by Moose in the lane with 1:55 to go.
“Crucial defensive stops ó we had a lot of them there at the end,” Davenport said. “That’s what won it for us.”
It got frantic. North Iredell turned it over with 53 seconds left, but Carson gave it back. North’s Casey Pharr missed from the line with 34 seconds left to give Carson a chance to set up a winning possession.
The Cougars handled the pressure fine, and Basinger was fouled as he drove with 10.2 seconds left. His one-and-one free throw missed, however, and Moose fouled Scott fighting for the board.
After Scott calmly made two free throws for a 54-51 lead, Moose had a decent look at a tying 3 with four seconds left. But he missed, Pharr rebounded, and Harvey sank a clinching free throw.
It was the final game for seniors Basinger, Dustin Craft, Alex Freeze, Dylan Kosinski and Renard Adams.
“Those guys gave us leadership that will be hard to replace,” Perry said. “I hate we couldn’t get this one. One or two more plays and it’s ours.”
CARSON (51) ó Moose 26, Doby 10, Basinger 6, Houston 6, Freeze 3, Adams, Kosinski, Craft, Matthews, Sewell.NORTH IREDELL (55) ó Scott 21, Harvey 14, Leach 13, Staton 5, Sharpe 2, C. Pharr, W. Pharr, Christenberry. Carson 8 15 14 14 ó 51
N. Iredell 14 20 7 14 ó 55n
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com